Choosing the best ecommerce platform to suit your business

If a business is thinking about re-platforming their ecommerce business, they may well have searched for comparison articles, charts, tables etc between different platforms – there is a wealth of information available in this area.  However the focus if these is often on the functionality of each platform, which is of course important, but sometimes just as important is how the platform will fit into the company set up and skill set…i.e. If a business doesn’t have an ecommerce team to speak of but implements a complex website solution – they may run into some trouble!  This article looks at what to consider with platforms when it comes to the day to day running of the business.

Size of the in-house ecommerce team

It’s a bit of a generalisation but certain ecommerce platforms take up a lot more time than others to manage on a day to day basis.

Open source platforms like Magento offer massive flexibility when it comes to functionality and customisations are often easier to implement.  However, with this flexibility comes the higher chance that something will go wrong compared to more locked down SaaS based platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce.  

In my opinion this is something that is often overlooked when it comes to choosing a platform.  It’s easy to get excited about the possibilities the new site will enable but it’s important that a business considers the skill set and time required for an in-house ecommerce team to manage a potentially complex website.

Comfort levels on outsourcing 

It’s likely that a business will outsource the build of their ecommerce site but they may want to keep as many other aspects as possible in-house- this can include SEO, PPC and Social.  

If a business does want to keep operations in-house, choosing a platform that allows them to do this is important.  Most ecommerce platforms will offer varying levels of out of the box functionality for SEO, PPC etc, which can then be extended further with modules or apps.  Make sure you understand what can and can’t be managed through the platform – and how easy it is to do this to make sure if you do want to keep operations within the business, you can do without the need to compromise too much.

International teams

If a business is large enough to have international requirements and teams in place to manage, this will of course need to be considered very carefully when choosing an ecommerce platform.

The desired set up will need to be confirmed first – i.e. are translations required, will they sell in local currencies, are there separate websites per territory etc.  Once this has been decided upon, the strengths and weaknesses of each ecommerce platform in this area can be assessed.  Most platforms can handle internationalisation to varying degrees – Magento has strength in this area, there are challenges with Shopify but these can be overcome depending on the complexity of the requirements.  The important thing is to work out what would be the ideal setup to suit the business international strategy, then seeing what each ecommerce platform offers and what compromises might need to be made.

B2B needs

Similar to internationalisation, B2B requirements for a company range from quite simple to extremely complex.  Open Source platforms like Magento Commerce have a range of B2B features and the platform can be extended to pretty much do anything you require it to do.  However it is worth considering what you actually need from a B2B perspective – as mentioned in the ‘ecommerce team’ section of this article, the more features and customisations you have on your site, the more time it will take to manage them.

Future plans for the business

If a company wants to achieve 100% growth YOY, the business could look quite different in a few, short years time.  It’s important to consider how an ecommerce platform will be able to adapt to these changes and how future proofed it will be.  A platform like Magento Open Source is quite appealing as it has plenty of features built in, lots of modules on the market to extend and there is no license cost to use the platform.  However, if the business takes off, the platform may quickly become unsuitable…and upgrading to the Commerce version of Magento is not a simple task – it is more likely to entail an entirely new build.

Summary

It’s certainly not a one size fits all approach – i.e. if you have an ecommerce team of 2, you don’t want to outsource anything and you need B2B features then you have to go with a certain platform.  However, it is worth considering the above alongside the functionality that each platform offers before taking the plunge into your next re-platforming project to make sure the site you end up with fits as well as it can do within the business as a whole.